Introducing Startup Trail: A Game About The Policy Challenges Tech Startups Face
from the don't-die-of-dysentery-or-patent-trolls dept
Play the game and test your skills »
Can you survive the Startup Trail? Today we’re launching a browser-playable startup policy simulator game called Startup Trail, developed in partnership with Engine. Here’s your chance to learn about all the challenges of building a successful tech startup in the face of all sorts of obstacles.
Over the last few years there have been plenty of discussions about “regulating” the internet, with a key focus on figuring out how to deal with the biggest companies out there, sometimes referred to as “Big Tech.” However, because the conversation almost always focuses on those big players, very little (if any) regard is given to the fact that there are many, many, many smaller tech and internet startups out there — and how those companies will be impacted by these policy decisions.
But the fact is, policy touches on startups in so many different ways, and it can be particularly time consuming for the entrepreneurs trying to build the next big thing, or just to unseat some of the internet giants, to understand how different policy changes and regulations will impact them. And that’s not to mention the difficulty policymakers (and sometimes the media) have in understanding how these policies will reverberate beyond the biggest companies (many of whom have enough cash, lawyers, and lobbyists on hand not to really have to worry that much). Especially at a time when people are concerned about how powerful some of the big companies have become, it would be useful if we didn’t then hinder competition by stomping out startups in the process.
Engine is a trade group for startups that has done great work for a decade (it just turned ten years old!). Each year, Engine puts out a wonderful Startup Agenda, looking at all of the important policy issues that will impact the startup ecosystem. This year, they partnered with us at Copia to also design a browser-playable game, allowing anyone to experience a microcosm of the tech policy challenges any startup may face as they try to build a successful company. We’re excited to launch Startup Trail: The Game of Startup Survival today, in partnership with Engine.
You can play the game in any desktop/laptop browser (sorry, not for mobile devices currently), and go from the founding stage as far as you can take your startup. But beware, there are all sorts of challenges along the way, from data privacy to patent trolls to copyright and much, much more. You need to survive those challenges, but also make sure you have enough money on hand to keep going, enough users joining your service to keep it viable, and enough talent and technology to actually keep things running. And you’ll have to do it all without getting too distracted by everyone who wants some of your valuable time and focus…
So go check out the Startup Trail… and when you finish your journey, make sure to click the share button and share the results on social media (Wordle-style), to let everyone know whether you created a Five Unicorn wonder or had to crash and burn when the money ran dry…
This is the latest in our growing series of game and game-like approaches to helping people understand complex policy challenges, or to explore future possibilities. If you’re interested in learning more how games can be a great tool for deeper understanding, feel free to contact us as well.
Filed Under: competition, copyright, data privacy, games, patents, security, startup trail, startups, tech policy
Comments on “Introducing Startup Trail: A Game About The Policy Challenges Tech Startups Face”
Standalone desktop app in the works?
Do you plan on also making a standalone desktop app for Windows, MacOS, and/or Linux? I would also like to know what engine is used for this game (if not Twine).
Asking as a professional game tester.
So basically, a modified StorySynth engine. Nice to see that building one’s own engine for games isn’t completely out of fashion. I tried making a simple game with my own engine for a class back in college and it was haaaard. Once I tried making a simple game in Unity, it made me wish I had that Engine back in my college days because my path to making games would have probably come from that.
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Yeah – we certainly investigated engines (Twine and Inkle were our top contenders) but ultimately it seemed easier to get the functionality we wanted by building it ourselves
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This discussion reminds me of this blogpost going into the philosophy of why a few developers decide to go the DIY route in building their own engines. Ron Gilbert (famous for the Monkey Island series) is famous for his engines, especially the SCUMM engine.
So you could easily port the game to PC,and possibly mobile as well.
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Could definitely package it up as a PC game. Mobile is a lot tougher – the interface doesn’t currently support screens below a certain size, and it also relies on mouseover tooltips for conveying important (if technically not 100% critical) information.
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with ports to macOS and Linux, I hope?
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scratches head in puzzlement
Erm, you do know that macOS and Linux are PCs too, right? PC stands for ‘personal computer’, not ‘Windows’.
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Yes, I do know that Macintosh computers and Linux PCs are technically personal computers. I’m a high-functioning autistic person too, so I get it. It’s just that “PC” in this context (and most contexts, for that matter) designates “any computer with a windows operating system on it”.
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Well, I did say ‘possibly’, not ‘definitely’. It would be good if you could, though.
Does the game not work in Chrome on a Chromebook?
I keep getting sent to an Engine page that says, “Sorry, mobile devices with small screens are not supported. Play Startup Trail on a laptop or desktop.”